Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

November 2007

A Monthly Archive (75 entries)

Did I Miss My Decade?

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday I gave a talk for GMU TV (pre-recorded; not sure when it will broadcast). My host declared that I would have made a "great '60s radical" and compared me to reading Eldridge Cleaver. The big message of my book,... MORE

Solar power--when should it scale?

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
Some recent stories about solar power. 1. Solar concentration technology: A new mechanism for focusing light on small areas of photovoltaic material could make solar power in residential and commercial applications cheaper than electricity from the grid in most markets... MORE

Six Months of Intellectual Anthropology

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Tyler makes a spot-on plea to meet people before you write about them:I'd like to propose a new research convention. Anytime a writer or blogger talks about what The Right or The Left (or some subset thereof) really wants or... MORE

Political Science

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
Terence Jeffrey writes, "The growing political importance of unmarried women is undergirded by a demographic shift that is fundamentally changing America," Greenberg Quinlan Rosner reported. "Between 1960 and 2006, the percentile of the voting age population (as opposed to households)... MORE

Pragmatic Health Care Reform

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
From my latest essay: Overall, I am not persuaded that socialized medicine will prove more efficient in the United States. However, I am not a big fan of the insurance industry as it operates today, and I think that it... MORE

Senator X's Amazing Letter to Me

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Earlier this month, I received the most amazing feedback yet on my book. A successful politician wrote me the following letter. I reprint it, redacted, with his explicit permission. (If you find the inline version too hard to read, here's... MORE

Creative Class Warfare

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
Joel Kotkin writes, Urban centers that have been traditional favorites for young singles, such as Chicago, Boston, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, have experienced below-average job and population growth since 2000. San Francisco and Chicago lost population during... MORE

Did MAD Work - Or Did We Just Get Lucky?

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I think it's obvious that the Soviet Union was a vastly greater threat to the U.S. than Islamic terrorism will ever be. But some readers don't agree; in their view, the practice of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) meant that, in... MORE

Gintis vs. Redistribution

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
Herb Gintis writes, if the wealth were redistributed to the middle class, the US investment rate would fall, since the rich save their money and it is translated into investment, whereas the middle classes would spend their gains on consumption,... MORE

Comments on the Possible Swindle

IQ in Economics
Arnold Kling
Several interesting comments on this post. The puzzle is this: let X be the correlation between parental IQ and children's IQ. Let Y be the correlation between the child's IQ and the child's future earnings. Let Z be the correlation... MORE

Common Genius

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Bill Greene writes, While a major theme of this book is that a historical progress has bubbled up from the bottom -- from the actions of the common men and women of history--a secondary theme is that most of history’s... MORE

Is This a Swindle?

IQ in Economics
Arnold Kling
Brad DeLong writes, If inherited genetically-based IQ were the source of the extra edge that the children of the rich get in our society, than we would expect a parent with 4 times average lifetime full-time earnings--say $200,000 a year--to... MORE

Two Rothbardian Reductios

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Despite his army of detractors, Murray Rothbard was a master of the reductio ad absurdum. In Power and Market, he out-did even Bastiat:Suppose that Jones has a farm, “Jones’ Acres,” and Smith works for him. Having become steeped in protariff... MORE

Shiller is bold?

Regulation and Subsidies
Arnold Kling
A reader asked me to comment on Robert Shiller's column, where he says, In 1932, the National Association of Real Estate Boards proposed and Congress created the Federal Home Loan Bank System, modeled after the Federal Reserve System. Twelve regional... MORE

Why Did So Many Libertarians Support the War?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
When the Washington Times announced that libertarianism is trendy, I couldn't help but think "It would be a lot trendier if libertarians had been against the Iraq War from the start." Plenty of libertarians were against it, of course. But... MORE

Who wouldn't want to see Tyler Cowen publicly debate Robin Hanson? Well, aside from the masses? I think they'd both be willing, if they could only pinpoint a good topic. A while back they had an extended blog dialogue (see... MORE

A Fertile Criticism of Happiness Research?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Here's the childless-by-choice Lionel Shriver, in Maybe Baby:[A] recent New York Times Magazine article cited research documenting that while marriage makes people on average happier, parenthood makes them less so. And you'd think that someone like me would seize on... MORE

Voting, Vote-Selling, and Externalities

Public Goods
Bryan Caplan
Philosopher Michael Sandel asked Greg Mankiw whether people should be allowed to sell their votes. Mankiw's answer:[T]he standard argument for unfettered voluntary exchange does not apply because there are externalities. That is, when one person sells his vote to another,... MORE

Am I a heterodox Keynesian?

Macroeconomics
Arnold Kling
Probably. Politically, I'm in a different place, obviously, and I'm not heavily invested in macro as a subject. But how else would you label someone who believes the following: 1. Textbook macro is misguided. 2. The most useful insights in... MORE

Freddie Mac--victim, villain, or savior?

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
The New York Times reports, Freddie Mac, the big mortgage finance company, posted a $2 billion loss for the third quarter and warned that it might not have enough capital on hand to cover the mandatory reserves for its mortgage... MORE

If You'd Listened to Me, You'd Be Happy About the Falling Dollar

International Macroeconomics: Exchange Rates, International Debt, etc.
Bryan Caplan
Two years ago I denounced home country bias, people's propensity to invest solely in their own country's assets. International diversification is a free lunch in terms of mean-variance efficiency, but most of us pass on it. As Karen Lewis explains:Indeed,... MORE

The Iceberg Groweth

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
From a new analysis by the Congressional Budget Office: in the absence of changes in federal law: --Total spending on health care would rise from 16 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2007 to 25 percent in 2025, 37... MORE

Kindle-nomics

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Joel Johnson writes, the $400 premium just to get the Kindle reader isn't the last fee you'll pay. I'm not talking about paying for eBooks from Amazon, which are priced typically at $10 or less, but for the additional fees... MORE

I Like Ike

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
Fortune Magazine reports on Al Gore joining the venture capital firm Kleiner-Perkins: "What we are going to have to put in place is a combination of the Manhattan Project, the Apollo project, and the Marshall Plan, and scale it globally,"... MORE

Mentioning IQ and race

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
My latest essay tries to sort out the issues of race, IQ, and education. Earlier, I said that my preferred approach is individualism. To understand this approach, try this thought experiment: imagine if everyone suddenly were afflicted with group-identity amnesia.... MORE

Blogging When I Should Have Been Betting

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Last year I argued that AIDS estimates were inflated. Now the UN has cut its estimate of the number infected by 40%. This is getting to be a pattern! HT: Tyler (who once said I was dead wrong about this...)... MORE

Academic Corruption Index?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Some countries are more corrupt than others: Haiti is not Finland. Measures like the Corruption Perceptions Index attempt to quantify these differences. Some academic disciplines are more bogus than others: Women's Studies is not Mathematics. But as far as I... MORE

Sigmund Freud Meets Jack Bauer

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The modern world's most prominent proponent of torture has to be 24's Jack Bauer. How many fictional lives has he saved by bringing on the pain? But let's not give Bauer too much credit. He's building on the shoulders of... MORE

Health Care Safety

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Alex Tabarrok writes, I consider a 1% chance of death to be very risky, perhaps worthwhile for some morbidly obese people but when 1 in every 100 patients doesn't make it off the table that is not good odds. What... MORE

Open Economy Macro

International Macroeconomics: Exchange Rates, International Debt, etc.
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen writes, I know full well that in most sensible intertemporal models the U.S. dollar is overvalued and must fall further to set right the trade balance. But these same intertemporal models don't explain business cycles or unemployment very... MORE

Selection Bias

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
Today's Washington Post has three prominent op-ed pieces. Mark Winne writes, During my tenure in Hartford, I often wondered what would happen if the collective energy that went into soliciting and distributing food were put into ending hunger and poverty... MORE

$1 for the Hands of Victory?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Esquire features a fascinating story in pictures: The seven wonders of the totalitarian world. This article reminds me that it's time to renew my call to privatize Lenin's mummy. I wish I could make the same suggestion for the other... MORE

5 Miles of Economic Illiteracy

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday I spoke at the University of Virginia's Miller Center (video coming to local PBS in about two weeks) as well as its Department of Economics. The cost: I had to wake up at the ungodly hour of 7 AM.... MORE

Not Groupthink

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Daniel B. Klein and Charlotta Stern discuss how academic disciplines become dominated by particular ideologies. At the very top departments, more than 90 percent come from the worldwide top-35 departments; the top is almost entirely self-regenerating. They call the result... MORE

Julian Simon Moment of the Day

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
The 2007 Statistical Abstract of the United States lists death rates per 100,000 population. The 1951 Statistical Abstract of the United States lists death rates per 1000 population. When you look at the numbers, it's easy to see why. Back... MORE

Asian Development Bank Says I'm Right About China

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
I recently doubted that the Chinese economy lives up to its reputation. Now the Financial Times says that the Asian Development Bank is backing me up:In a little-noticed mid-summer announcement, the Asian Development Bank presented official survey results indicating China’s... MORE

Comparative Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The Left's story of health international health care comparisons is the following: 1. The U.S. system is flawed. 2. Other countries' systems work much better. 3. The U.S. system relies on the free market. 4. There are two systems of... MORE

Tolstoy, the Clarkian

Growth: Causal Factors
Bryan Caplan
Greg Clark thinks labor quality is vital for economic growth. I'm skeptical - it's easy to believe that American labor is twice as productive as Somalian labor, but not 70 times. Still, while re-reading Anna Karenina, I couldn't help but... MORE

More on IQ

IQ in Economics
Arnold Kling
Stephen J. Ceci writes, Each of us gains every year approximately .3 of an IQ point (6 IQ points every twenty years), and this has been found for nearly 30 nations. It was a secret before Flynn and others made... MORE

Opportunism

Business Economics
Arnold Kling
William Easterly writes, Set big goals. Do whatever it takes to reach them. These muscular sentences form the core of commencement addresses, business-advice books, political movements and even the United Nations approach to global poverty. In "Strategic Intuition," a concise... MORE

Online Seminar

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
As part of an online seminar, Adam Przeworski writes, When in 1993 Limongi and I reviewed studies of the effect of political regimes on economic growth, we found that the results perfectly fitted the ideological climate of the period when... MORE

ESPNomics

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
From Gregg Easterbrook (scroll down past all the NFL BS) When you buy a home using a mortgage, you don't own the home: The lender is the owner until the loan is satisfied. You can't lose something that does not... MORE

Is Gender a Big Deal?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Many psychologists embrace the "gender similarities hypothesis" - the view that we tend to overstate the differences between men and women. My colleague Garett Jones pointed out a thorough meta-analysis by Janet Hyde, claiming that - with the exceptions of... MORE

Ongoing Escalation of Income

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
A Wall Street Journal editorial reports, The Treasury study examined a huge sample of 96,700 income tax returns from 1996 and 2005 for Americans over the age of 25. The study tracks what happened to these tax filers over this... MORE

Free Economic Advice for Joe Matt?

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Bryan Caplan
Seth: You should try working for a living! I've got six illustration jobs waiting at home for me and they're all due by the end of the week! Joe: Yeah, well... maybe if you tried saving your money like me,... MORE

Jonathan Cohn Needs Masonomics

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
He writes, You don't have to choose between universal access and innovation. It's possible to have both--as long as you do it right. By universal access, he means a government-run system. By innovation, he means wonderful new medical procedures. The... MORE

Selling Self-Control: Will It Take Off?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I've previously argued that much - perhaps most - talk about "self-control" problems reflects social desirability bias rather than genuine inner conflict:Part of the reason why people who spend a lot of time and money on socially disapproved behaviors say... MORE

Neuro-Platitudinous

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
If you want to publish obvious results, it really helps to scan some brains first. Case in point: "This is Your Brain on Politics," an op-ed in Sunday's NYT:In anticipation of the 2008 presidential election, we used functional magnetic resonance... MORE

Rojas Bleg

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Fabio Rojas is looking for:[Z]ip code level data from 2004/2005 that has:demography: gender, age, race, SES, occupation. Other stuff (like family structure or housing) would be a plus. political behavior: party ID + 2004 presidential vote would be more than... MORE

The Engineering Mindset

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
Diego Gambetta and Stefan Herzog write, Friedrich von Hayek, in 1952, made a strong case for the peculiarity of the engineering mentality, which in his view is the result of an education which does not train them to understand individuals... MORE

The Topic du jour

IQ in Economics
Arnold Kling
Lots of stuff showing up on IQ and genetics these days. The New York Times has a story. “Let’s say [hypothetically] the genetic data says we’ll have to spend two times as much for every black child to close the... MORE

Megan McArdle seemed to me to get the best of her debate. Fortunately for her, she was on the same side as the master, Milton Friedman. Thanks to Greg Mankiw for the pointer to the Friedman interview--go here to find... MORE

Tim Harford's Next Book

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Is called The Logic of Life. I hated the introduction. At one point, Harford writes, Might there not be such a thing as a rational blowjob? I don't think of myself as a prude, but I wound up muttering to... MORE

Caplanians in the Ivy League?

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
I still remember when I was an undergraduate and Bill Dickens taught me how to pronounce "Mankiw." (That's MAN-KYOO to you.) I never would have believed that one day he'd be turning my name into an adjective:The public tends to... MORE

Solow on Gregory Clark

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Clive Crook quotes from Robert Solow's review of Gregory Clark's book. Clark's pessimism about closing the gap between the successful and less successful economies may derive from the belief that nothing much can change unless and until the mercantile and... MORE

Switch to Switchgrass?

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
Ricardo Hausmann writes, Rodrigo Wagner and I have estimated that there are some 95 countries that have more than 700m hectares of good quality land that is not being cultivated. Depending on assumptions about productivity per hectare, today’s oil production... MORE

Home Prices and Rents

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
Fortune Magazine writes, From 2000 to 2007 the nationwide P/R jumped from 15 to 24, an increase of 60%. The figure went from 12 to 21 in Tampa, 11 to 26 in Washington, D.C., and 28 to 51 in California's... MORE

More than one attendee at the Social Philosophy and Policy conference voiced dismay over David Horowitz's promotion of the Academic Bill of Rights. A typical plank:Curricula and reading lists in the humanities and social sciences should reflect the uncertainty and... MORE

What Philosophy Needs: A Strong Dose of Hanson

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Robin Hanson and I have our fair share of philosophical disagreements. But the longer I stayed at the Social Philosophy and Policy conference, the more I kept thinking, "These people desperately need a strong dose of Hanson." To be specific:... MORE

Doctor-Patient Conversations

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The New York Times reports, An influential medical standards group plans to present a new model today for helping employers and insurers to identify the best primary care doctors and to steer patients their way. Those doctors, in turn, would... MORE

Poor Vs. Ultra-Poor

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
The International Food Policy Institute reports, the ultra poor are overwhelmingly concentrated in one region—Sub-Saharan Africa is home to more than three-quarters of the world’s ultra poor. Sub-Saharan Africa is also the only region in the world in which there... MORE

Wages and Education

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz write, Relative demand shifts favoring more-educated workers have not been particularly rapid since 1980. Instead, the growth of the supply of skills slowed considerably after 1980 and the wage structure, in consequence, widened. The deceleration... MORE

Experimental Game Theory at HeroCon

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
If you want to role-play and study social science at the same time, don't miss this weekend's HeroCon in Glen Burnie, Maryland. (FYI: This is a convention for the Hero System role-playing game, not the NBC show Heroes). Admittedly, there... MORE

Mankiw Scores One

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Greg Mankiw writes, Almost all sweeping health reform proposals involve higher taxes on the rich to provide benefits for those farther down the economic ladder. The redistribution, rather than health reform, is sometimes the main objective. To judge whether my... MORE

Watson on Summers: From Strange to Baffling

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
After Nobel prize-winner James Watson publicized his views on African IQ, there was an angry backlash. Before long, he took most of it back and begged forgiveness. If this sounds familiar, it should; the same thing happened when Larry Summers... MORE

Flynn on IQ and Education

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
James Flynn writes, Two twins raised apart, thanks to having slightly better genes than average, would both get into increasingly privileged environments. Both would get more teacher attention, would be encouraged to do more homework, would get into a top... MORE

Kling and Mankiw on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I talk for an hour with Russ Roberts, here. I'd love to hear your comments. Don't forget to vote for econtalk in the podcast awards. Finally, Greg Mankiw raises some issues with health care statistics. 1. International comparisons of longevity... MORE

What Are Philosophers Experts At?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Recently Tyler Cowen publicized one of his periodic challenges to me:I often joke with Bryan that the time has come for him to accept the consensus of what the experts in moral philosophy (or atonal music) tell us (him) to... MORE

Reflection #1 inspired by the Social Philosophy and Policy conference: In academic economics, the ultimate scarce good is the right to write pieces in plain English for top journals. We ration it by putting economists famous for their mathematical and... MORE

Make Democracy Work for Once: Vote EconTalk

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
EconTalk, the podcasting sister of Econlog run by the noble Russ Roberts, has been nominated for a 2007 Weblog award. Vote here, and may the best podcaster win.... MORE

MIT Guys

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
I took a lot of notes on 4 talks given at "MIT on the Road." Unlike the Valley Guys, who think that four new JavaScript function calls constitutes an economic revolution, the MIT folks had lots of interesting things to... MORE

Reading Instruction

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
From a transcript of a panel on reading instruction, here is Dr. Reid Lyon: The biggest impediment to kids’ learning to read is not biological or genetic: it’s instructional. Instructional casualties account for the majority of that 50–60 percent of... MORE

Valley Guys

Business Economics
Arnold Kling
This is an hour-long video of an announcement at Google of a set of protocols called "Open Social." I cannot vouch for its economic significance. But any business sociologist ought to watch this to see the way these guys talk,... MORE

Leave a Comment, Larry

International Macroeconomics: Exchange Rates, International Debt, etc.
Arnold Kling
In an interview, Larry Summers says, The classic concern with respect to imbalances is that a situation develops where people are both trying to take money out of a country’s banks and trying to sell its currency. And the central... MORE

Easy Essay Money

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
The blogosphere has honed your writing skills; now it's time to cash in. Here's two more essay contests to try:2007-08 APEE Essay Contest on the Benefits of a Free Market EconomyIHS Essay Contest for Undergraduate StudentsI'd like to see the... MORE

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